2015 Claiming Crown Preview

The Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park gets underway on Saturday with a day full of salty horses and lucrative betting opportunities: the Claiming Crown.

Claiming races form the backbone of the schedule at racetracks everywhere. The principle is simple: every horse in a claiming race can be purchased by a properly licensed entity for the price defined in the race conditions.  Claiming conditions function to sort horses by skill, as anyone who thinks a horse would be competitive against significantly tougher company can claim the horse and then try for those more lucrative purses.

The Claiming Crown began in 1999 at Canterbury Park as an event to celebrate and bring wider attention to claiming horses.  They are run under similar conditions as starter allowances.  In addition to prescribing a surface and distance, the conditions for each race define a claiming price at or under which a horse had to have started within a defined period of time.  However, the purses differ a bit from garden-variety starter allowances.  Each Claiming Crown race offers a six-figure purse, making these races attractive not only to current claiming level horses, but also to onetime claimers who have graduated to stakes company but remain eligible for the conditions.

Quite fittingly for an event that celebrates the lunchpail horses, the Claiming Crown started in the Midwest.  Canterbury Park hosted the first edition in 1999, and it called Shakopee home for ten of its fourteen years.  It occasionally moved to other tracks: Parx, Ellis, and the Fair Grounds.  In 2012 it moved to Gulfstream Park, and this year’s edition will be there for the fourth straight year.

Much of this year’s Claiming Crown remains the same: in addition to remaining in Hallandale Beach, all eight races from last year’s schedule return.  However, a ninth race has been added.  The Distaff Turf Dash builds on the popularity of the Canterbury, the turf dash that was added to the schedule last year, by adding an analogous race for fillies and mares.

Also new for 2015 was a Claiming Crown Preview Day.  On November 1, Laurel Park hosted nine starter allowances that mirrored the conditions of the Claiming Crown races.  Winners earned automatic berths into the corresponding Claiming Crown race, as well as free shipping for the race.  Familiar to those who follow Arlington was the winner of the preview for the Emerald: Roman Approval.  Claimed last year at Saratoga for $25,000 by current owners Three Diamonds Farm, the Mike Maker trainee finished just a dogged neck behind The Pizza Man in the Stars and Stripes Stakes (GIII) at Arlington this summer, and crossed the wire fourth behind German import Lucky Speed in the American St. Leger (GIII).

Don’t forget — if you are following racing a little closer to home, we have a preview of Saturday’s Pat Whitworth Illinois Debutante at Hawthorne, as well.

All selections in turf races are for turf only.  Post times are approximate, as Gulfstream tends to run somewhat late.  Authors of stakes previews are noted by initials after each: PM for Paul Mazur and NN for Nicolle Neulist.

Race 3: Claiming Crown Tiara, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, starters for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since January 1, 2014, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 1:05pm EST

Selections:

#6 ST. BOREALIS (8/1)

#7 BE PLAYFUL (8/1)

#1 BIG N TOASTY (10/1)

Longshot: #12 SEEKING TREASURE (6/1) — PM

Race 4: Claiming Crown Iron Horse, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $7,500 or less lifetime, one and one sixteenth miles on the dirt, post time 1:35pm EST

The Iron Horse is one of the mainstays of the Claiming Crown, and has been run since the event’s inception in 1999.  Antrim County, one of only two horses to win two Claiming Crown races, won this race in 2008.  He followed that up with a win the next year in the Claiming Crown Jewel — and two starts after that, finished second behind Public Speaker in the Robert F. Carey Memorial Handicap at Hawthorne.  In a reversal of the common story of Ken and Sarah Ramsey claiming a horse and then winning here, Antrim County was claimed away from those connections by Boys Haven Equine, and then won the Iron Horse for his new connections.  Probably the most famous (or, at least, the most famously-bred) Iron Horse winner was Brother Bird, who won the race in 2012.  The name Brother Bird says it all, or at least quite a bit: he is a Yonaguska half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird (and, by extension, Dullahan).

Constant compared to last year is the $110,000 purse.  Changed since last year is the starter condition.  Though the claiming price of $7,500 remains the same, the condition was changed from January 1 of the year before to a lifetime condition.  The Iron Horse drew a field of ten this year, and the rail horse looms large: TWOCUBANBROTHERSU.  Though he has mostly been running in the starter ranks as opposed to the stakes or even straight allowance ranks, this rail-drawn horse has been a beast in the Mid-Atlantic starter ranks since being claimed into the barn of trainer John Rigattieri.  In eight starts since being claimed into that barn in May, he has won six times, all in the $5,000 and $7,500 starter ranks.  The most recent of his wins came in the Claiming Crown “Win and You’re In” race at Laurel, suggesting he has been pointed here deliberately.  In a race without a lot of runners who like to be right on the front, he is fast enough to be the speed of the speed, but ratable enough to sit off the speed (likely PALATINE HILL) if needed.  For a horse that close to the pace, with late pace that rivals that of the true closers in the field, this should set up beautifully for TWOCUBANBROTHERSU.

NOMINATIVE is a filly facing the boys here, but she has the form and the class to do it.  You have to dig back to her debut in December of 2013 to find when she ran for the $7,500 qualifying tag — making her about as snug a condition book pick as it comes.  She has been racing in classy allowance company in New York for much of the year.  She has only started on dirt twice — but, they have both been at a mile and an eighth, and both resulted in podium finishes.  Pacewise, she will be off the pace, but needs not rally from the clouds.  Her connections know what they are doing when it comes to placing horses in the Claiming Crown.  She is owned by none other than Ken and Sarah Ramsey, and trained by Mike Maker.  These connections own the Claiming Crown, full stop.  RUNS WITH BULLS also demands respect.  Though he has been knocking around at ThistleDown this spring and summer, it has been in allowance and allowance-optional company.  He has not been up for a tag lower than $12,500 this year, and has speed figures that fit in very well with this field.  Some bettors may sleep on him because he comes from a less sexy circuit than anyone else in the field.  However, that only means value — particularly with a nice jockey upgrade to Javier Castellano.  Pacewise, RUNS WITH BULLS should be stalking well in range, and not left with too much to do late.

Selections:

#1 TWOCUBANBROTHERSU (9/5)

#8 NOMINATIVE (10/1)

#2 RUNS WITH BULLS (6/1)

Longshot: #7 PALATINE HILL (20/1) may be one-way speed — but no one else in this field is.  TOH’S GREY CAT is likely too slow to send with PALATINE HILL early, and TWOCUBANBROTHERSU is a ratable enough horse that he does not need to be sent into an unnecessary duel.  If Gulfstream lives up to its typical speed-friendly reputation again this meet, this may be just the edge PALATINE HILL needs to blow up the tote board.  He is a true horse for the course (25-8-5-5 lifetime) and the distance (8-4-1-2 lifetime).  He may not be the most consistent horse in town, but the form he showed this summer would be enough to make an impact against this field.  He has also been a slop monster of sorts: 7-4-2-0 over wet dirt.  With all the rain in the forecast, that helps.  If he can get back to his best here — a possibility, given the favourable pace scenario as well as the wet weather — PALATINE HILL contends. — NN

Race 5: Claiming Crown Distaff Dash, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, starters for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since January 1, 2014, post time 2:05pm EST

The addition of the Claiming Crown Canterbury last year proved wildly popular: it drew an overflow field of males and females vying to go five furlongs on the grass.  It was the first time the Claiming Crown had hosted a turf sprint, and it fit well given how often tracks run turf sprints at the claiming and starter levels.  This year, Gulfstream Park doubles down on the popularity of the turf sprint.  They have added the Distaff Dash: a five-furlong turf dash restricted to fillies and mares with the same starter condition and the same distance as the Canterbury.  The addition of the Distaff Dash proved attractive at the entry box.  The race attracted thirteen starters for the grass, plus one main-track only entry.

RUMBLE DOLL looked formidable on paper no matter what.  With rain in the forecast through Friday and Saturday, there looks to be some give in the ground, and that only makes RUMBLE DOLL look stronger.  This race looks quite front-loaded, and RUMBLE DOLL is one of the few who does her best work from markedly off the pace.  Her speeds are solid for this field, and she also runs her better races over good or yielding ground, as opposed to firm.  She has not been up for a tag of any sort since August of 2014, and has been holding her own in New York-bred allowance company.  Two starts back she tried stakes company at the Spa — and though she was third beaten five lengths, the two horses in front of RUMBLE DOLL were serious stakes sprinters Lady Shipman and Free As a Bird.  She faces no such tough company here, and should be set to run them down late.

KATIE O. graduated in a $20,000 maiden claimer earlier this year, and has run for tags as low as $15,000 this year.  However, she has notched up to much better company since moving into the barn of Claiming Crown king Mike Maker in late summer.  She won an allowance at Kentucky Downs, and though she fired a clunker next out at Keeneland, she was third beaten less than a length last out behind Super Saks.  Super Saks turned around to win a minor stakes at six furlongs on dirt the next out — but is run-them-off-your-feet-fast turf sprinting.  Third behind her is a good form line to see, particularly since KATIE O. only faces starter company here.  That last out came with rider Javier Castellano aboard; Castellano returns here.  Also attractive about KATIE O. is the fact that she can run from the front, a stalking spot, or midpack.  Expect her to be a bit off the pace, with so much speed in the field.  Finally, she won over yielding Arlington grass, and that last-out allowance 3rd came over good ground at Churchill.  The rain moves her up.  SPECTACULAR ME has done all of her recent running over firmer going, but has been as consistent as it gets.  She has hit the board in her last seven, and in eleven of twelve starts this year.  All of those last seven starts have come with Jose Ortiz aboard, and he gets back in the irons here.  In terms of class, her current connections snapped her up for $25,00 in April of this year, but have not run her for less than $50,000 since — and have mostly run her in higher-priced allowance-optional company.  She should not get tied up badly in any pace battle up front, but should not be far away.  SPECTACULAR ME has been spectacular in turf dashes, with a 10-4-4-1 career line, and has been in the exacta for seven of twelve starts over the Gulfstream grass.  With a couple of sharp local works leading into this race, SPECTACULAR ME should be ready to fire another good one.

Selections:

#4 RUMBLE DOLL (8/1)

#9 KATIE O. (6/1)

#3 SPECTACULAR ME (5/1)

Longshot:  #11 SUNRISE KITTY (12/1) has been racing in straight claiming company for much of the year, but has been holding her own against mid-priced claiming types, as well as in a shot against first-level allowance-optional company.  She has been on the shelf since late September, but has a few works leading into this race — and runs for Jason Servis, a 23% winning trainer (with positive ROI) off similar lays.  SUNRISE KITTY herself has mustered a win first off a layoff.  She is another who can sit off the speed, and has strong enough middle pace figures to suggests she will be one of the ones with first run.  She has been in the money seven times out of eleven in turf dashes, and has two wins and a third over the Gulfstream grass.  — NN

Race 6: Claiming Crown Rapid Transit, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $16,000 or less since January 1, 2014, seven furlongs on the dirt, post time 2:35pm EST

Selections:

#11 GRANDE SHORES (9/2)

#7 STALLWALKIN’ DUDE (7/2)

#5 NEWFOUND GOLD (12/1)

Longshot:  #3 ROCKINN ON BYE (20/1) — PM

Race 7: Claiming Crown Glass Slipper, three-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, starters for a claiming price of $12,500 or less since January 1, 2014, one mile on the dirt, post time 3:05pm EST

Selections:

#6 AIX EN PROVENCE (3/1)

#2 PRIMO VIA (5/1)

#4 B L’S WAGON (7/2)

Longshot: #13 CONCEALEDWITHAKISS (12/1)  — PM

Race 8: Claiming Crown Canterbury, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since January 1, 2014, five furlongs on the turf, post time 3:35pm EST

One of the newer races on the roster, the Canterbury was inaugurated last year.  It was the first turf sprint race in the history of the Claiming Crown.  The name honours Canterbury Park: the track at which the Claiming Crown began in 1999, and its host for ten of the sixteen years of its history.  The race is similar to last year’s: a five-furlong turf dash with a $110,000 purse, open to runners who have started for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since January 1, 2014.  It proved popular in its first year: it drew an overflow field, and a full fourteen horses saw the starter.  Indiana-bred Buster Rose won the inaugural running by half a length, holding the multiple graded stakes place Mr. Online at bay.  Out of last year’s Claiming Crown Canterbury runners, it was the fourth-place finisher who ended up having the best year in 2015.  Two and a quarter lengths behind Buster Rose was none other than Arlington-based Mongolian Saturday — winner of the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GI), and headed to the Hong Kong Sprint on December 13.

DELTA BLUESMAN is the class of this field.  He has spent the entire year running in allowance and stakes company, repeatedly turning in races that would beat this set.  In ten starts this year, he has won three times, and never finished worse than third.  His last five starts have come with Orlando Bocachica riding; they reunite here.  Last out, he finished second in the Sunshine Millions Turf Sprint Preview.  Though that was a restricted stakes, he crossed the wire behind only a pair of solid turf sprinters in Jewel of a Cat and Katie’s Kiss.  He faces easier here.  DELTA BLUESMAN is a solid 9-2-3-2 over turf dash distances, and has also finished in the money in four of six tries over the Gulfstream main.  In terms of pace, though he will be forward in a field laden with speed, he stands to be the one who is fast and game enough to survive five panels on the front.  He comes into this race second off a layoff, a 38% winning proposition (with positive ROI) for trainer Jorge Navarro.  This consistent runner should bring a sharp effort once again.

DO THE ROAR is a a Gulfstream horse for the course, with an 8-4-1-1 line over it.  This includes an open stakes win two starts back, over the same course and distance, over good turf.  With the rain in the forecast, that stands out.  This start is DO THE ROAR’s second off a layoff, but he was second against a solid allowance field in his first start back, and he finished second behind a classy runner in Weekend Hideaway in that first race back.  With a decent amount of speed in this field, DO THE ROAR’s tendency to do most of his best work from a stalking spot stands out, since he will be able to stay in range without having to rally from too far back.  His recent speed figures also stack up favourably against this group.  Rider Carlos Olivero, who has been aboard for his last two starts, has the return call.  SUCCESSFUL NATIVE was claimed this year out of a maiden $25,000 at Gulfstream.  He won that day, and has never been up for a tag again.  That maiden win came over good ground, suggesting he has a chance to run well despite the rain in the forecast.  He is a stakes winner over this course and distance as well, having taken a listed event three back.  Though he has disappointed as the favourite in his last two starts, that last one was September 19.  He has gotten a break since then, and has some eminently solid works leading into this start.  His running style should fit this race, as well – -as a stalking-to-midpack runner, he should be able to stay out of the likely pace battle, and be one of the ones mounting a rally as the speed begins to tire.  With an 8-3-1-1 line over the Gulfstream grass, and all of those money finishes coming in seven starts in turf dashes, all we know is that he is a solid enough Gulfstream Park turf sprinter for this level.  Given that the Claiming Crown remains at Gulfstream this year, that is plenty to like about SUCCESSFUL NATIVE.

Selections:

#9 DELTA BLUESMAN (5/1)

#7 DO THE ROAR (4/1)

#12 SUCCESSFUL NATIVE (6/1)

Longshot: Rail-drawn #1 BILLY TWO HATS (20/1) may have been claimed for $25,000 three starts back, but has been holding his own against far better company in his two starts for new trainer Jack Frost.  Two starts back, he won a $100,000 allowance-optional turf dash at Kentucky Downs.  Though many of the horses he faced were dirt sprinters trying grass, they were quite a classy bunch compared to who he faces today (think Alsvid, who finished second at odds-on).  BILLY TWO HATS got a break between that early September start and a November 5 start, also at Churchill.  That day, in a straight allowance, he faced true turf sprinters.  Though third behind an extremely sharp Hogy, BILLY TWO HATS stalked, fell out of stride, but was tenacious enough to find it again and outfinish Mongol Bull. Those company lines stand out here, particularly at boxcar odds, and the 15-6-2-3 does not hurt either.  Though BILLY TWO HATS does most of his best on the front — a liability in this speedy field — that last out start in which he stalked and stayed against better gives some hope that he can rate. — NN

Race 9: Claiming Crown Express, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $7,500 or less lifetime, six furlongs on the dirt, post time 4:05pm EST

The Claiming Crown Express is the sprinters’ analogue to the Iron Horse.  It has the same $110,000 purse and the same new-for-2015 starter condition (claiming price of $7,500 or less lifetime).  Just the distance differs; this one covers six furlongs over the dirt.  The Express is another race that has been a part of the Claiming Crown since its inception in 1999.  The six-furlong track record at Canterbury was set during the 2005 running of the Claiming Crown Express.  That year, Texas-bred Onlyinurimagination beat out Chicago circuit regular Cicero Grimes by three and a half lengths, stopping the clock in 1:08.04.  That record still stands, ten years later.  In 2010, local trainer Tammy Domenosky won this race with Moralist.  Moralist ran many of his big races on grass — he was third in the Shakertown (GIII) at Keeneland that year, third in the Arlington Sprint, and won the Honor the Hero Turf Express at Canterbury two years in a row.  Still, in the days before the Claiming Crown added a turf sprint, he showed his dirt prowess in the Express.  In 2013 fan favourite Ribo Bobo won the Claiming Crown Express; he went on to win three more stakes the following year.

Last year, LOVERBIL went off at 7/1, was well off the pace early, and got up to nail even longer shot Quiz Whiz by a neck.  This year, he returns to defend his title, and he looks well set to do it.  He gets rider Jose Lezcano back from that win last year.  He has also proven himself to be a Gulfstream Park horse.  Last year’s Express was his first try over the course.  In four tries over it, he has three wins, all at six furlongs and all against starter or starter-optional types.  His only out-of-the-money finish in Hallandale Beach was the Gulfstream Park Handicap (GII) this year — and he will neither be going a mile here, nor facing Breeders’ Cup caliber horses like Honor Code and Private Zone.  In addition to liking Gulfstream, he also likes six furlongs, with 11 wins and another five money finishes in 26 tries.  Though LOVERBIL has been laid off since September, he has a string of zippy works leading into this race, and runs for trainer Jorge Navarro, a 29% winner off similarly long lays.  Between his outside post and the presence of zippy types like ALFREDO ROMANA, ARTEFACTO, and BELLAMY STORM on the front end, he could get a very similar trip to last year’s.

SLAN ABHAILE is the sort of thing every bettor loves to find in the Claiming Crown: a Ramsey/Maker entry at a solid price.  They claimed him for $25,000 out of a race three starts back.  He had started for $6,000 at Delaware earlier in the year; they knew he had the starter condition.  Both starts for his current connections so far came at Keeneland, with both in $7,500 starter allowances.  He was second beaten half a length by BIG LEGACY in the first one, going six and a half furlongs.  Next out, SLAN ABHAILE cut back to six, and rolled.  He screams Claiming Crown claim — his 10-3-1-0 record at six furlongs stands out, as does the fact that he has a win and two more money finishes in three starts over the Gulfstream dirt.  This start has him third off the claim, and third off a freshening.  Maker has been working him at Gulfstream, getting him accustomed to the track, and all signs suggest he is being pointed here.  For connections who are so purposeful and so successful when it comes to the Claiming Crown, this stands out.  ALFREDO ROMANA breaks from the rail.  He has been in sparkling form this year, with six wins and a second in nine starts this year.  Across his career, he has six wins and a third in eight starts over the distance.  He also has a win on off going; between that and his speed, the rain in the forecast does not hurt matters.  ALFREDO ROMANA has run well from inside, fought well for the lead, and should be the most likely of the front-end brigade to survive.  In terms of class, though he started for $6,250 earlier this year, that was a Frank Calabrese drop off the claim.  Those sorts of moves are not uncommon for him — and ALFREDO ROMANA’s strong form since being claimed to current trainer David Nunn has been enough to prove that the move was not a total fire sale.  He has been holding his own against Mid-Atlantic allowance-optional types, and his form in those races compares well with who he faces here.

Selections:

#12 LOVERBIL (7/2)

#4 SLAN ABHAILE (5/1)

#1 ALFREDO ROMANA (4/1)

Longshot: #5 UNION LABEL (15/1) likes Gulfstream, with an 11-2-3-2 lifetime line over the course.  All five of his career wins have come over the six-furlong distance of the Express, as well.  Finally, he also has some known wet-track form, with a 6-1-1-2 record over off dirt.  This lays a solid foundation for a price horse here.  In terms of pace, this runner will be forwardly placed, but has shown the ability to rate — including two back, when he beat $6,250 open claimers at Gulfstream after stalking early and taking over down the stretch.  That field included both ARTEFACTO and HELPER RYE, both of whom he faces again here.  The rider change to Paco Lopez also looks a positive sign, since UNION LABEL is a ratable frontrunning type, and Lopez is particularly strong riding horses with early speed. — NN

Race 10: Claiming Crown Emerald, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $25,000 or less since January 1, 2014, one and one sixteenth miles on the turf, post time 4:35pm EST

Selections:

#4 YANKEE DEALER (10/1)

#12 PURELY BOY (10/1)

#1 ROMAN APPROVAL (5/1)

Longshot: #11 GOLDEN RIFLE (6/1) — PM

Race 11: Claiming Crown Jewel, three-year-olds and up, starters for a claiming price of $35,000 or less since January 1, 2014, one and one eighth miles on the dirt, post time 5:05pm EST

With a $200,000 purse, the Claiming Crown Jewel is the richest race of the day.  It is also the longest, at nine furlongs on the dirt, and has the highest claiming tag within its starter condition.  It has been the feature of the Claiming Crown every year the event has been run.  A host of Claiming Crown Jewel winners have made their marks in graded company as well.  Truly a Judge (2002) eventually became a multiple graded stakes winner, annexing both the 2004 Native Diver Handicap (GIII) and the 2005 San Gabriel Handicap (GIII).  Art Sherman trainee Desert Boom won this race in 2005, having won the GIII Berkeley Handicap in his previous start.  Headache (2010) won a pair of graded stakes in his career, including the 2011 Hawthorne Gold Cup (GII).  It Happened Again (2011) had won the Razorback Handicap (GIII) at Oaklawn earlier that year.  In last year’s edition, it was the horse beaten half a length who has proven to be the jewel of that field: Page McKenney.  This model of consistency has hit the board in 21 consecutive starts, starting in May of 2014 and continuing through the present day.  These include seven stakes wins (five this year), as well as a trio of graded stakes placings.

Running a horse who is eligible for the Claiming Crown Iron Horse in the Jewel instead takes some serious cojones.  And, yet, that’s what RICH DADDY does.  His current connections (trainer Jose Garoffalo, for Winds of Change Racing Stable) claimed him for $6,250 in May, and he has not been up for a tag since then.  That period includes two wins and another four money finishes in seven starts.  RICH DADDY has three wins and four thirds in seven tries over the Gulfstream main, suggesting an aptitude for the track.  He also has a win and a third in two starts on off dirt, suggesting the rain will not be a problem.  That win happened three starts back in N1X allowance-optional company; the third was two back, in an open stakes.  Both of those starts were at Gulfstream.  He gets Emisael Jaramillo in the irons for this race.  Jaramillo has ridden him in his last four starts, with two wins and two thirds to show for it.  This horse’s speeds fit, and in terms of pace, he is a stalking to midpack type who will not be in a pace battle, but has some flexibility in placement.  All in all, RICH DADDY is a consistent horse who loves the Gulfstream course, and looks well placed in the Jewel.

Though trainer Rudy Rodriguez sends a pair here, his “A” entry carries the stronger appeal: ROYAL POSSE.  This runner has only been up for a tag once all year, but that once was enough.  His current connections took him for $20,000 at Belmont in May, after a string of off-the-board finishes in allowance and starter company.  In four starts for his new connections, he has not finished worse than second.  This includes an allowance win at Saratoga, as well as a New York-bred stakes win.  Both of those happened at nine furlongs; in fact, out of six starts that ROYAL POSSE has made at nine furlongs, he has three wins and two seconds.  He also boasts wet track form, with a win and two seconds in five starts over off going.  ROYAL POSSE should be stalking closely in range of the leader, and has the guts and the stamina to fight for every inch late — particularly at nine furlongs.  INDYCOTT also rates strongly in this group.  INDYCOTT has clearly been pointing to the Claiming Crown; he raced last out at Laurel, in the “Win and You’re In” race for the Claiming Crown Jewel, prevailing by a gutsy head over MR PALMER and LIEUTENANT SEANY O.  INDYCOTT has two wins in three starts over the nine-furlong distance of this race, as well as a win and a third over the nine-furlong distance of this race.  In terms of pace, he will likely be rallying from several lengths off, though he showed last out in the prep race that he can get right on the front, engage in a protracted duel, and and get his nose on the wire.  Though Gulfstream remains a question, this runner has taken his form on the road to enough different racetracks to prove that he does not need to take a track with him.

Selections:

#8 RICH DADDY (6/1)

#11 ROYAL POSSE (4/1)

#9 INDYCOTT (8/1)

Longshot: Should the front end get significantly feisty with the likes of MARKET BLASTER and MAL GUAPO getting seriously tied up on the front, #6 ACES FOR JOHN (30/1) should be rallying well late.  He has some late pace figures that compare favourably to the field, form lines that have come over the local Gulfstream track.  ACES FOR JOHN has shown himself to be a Gulfstream Park horse, with a 13-5-3-5 record currently over the track.  He gets a class drop from the Sunshine Millions Classic Preview last out, and has been bouncing between allowance and stakes company.  He has not been in for the tag since graduating in maiden $35,000 company at Gulfstream this April, and he has been in the money for eleven of his thirteen tries this year.  His class fits, his form fits, and he performs his best over the same course that hosts the Jewel.  — NN

***

You can take “Picks & Ponderings” with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates @picksponderings for on-scene reports from Hawthorne Race Course. And you can get “Picks and Ponderings” in your e-mail by typing your email address in the box and clicking “Create Subscription.” It’s a FREE service, and you’ll never get any unwanted spam.

Leave a comment